Can you imagine only have 1 day to spend at a theme park? Seems like crazy talk to me, but sometimes it happens! Back in July, we vacationed with my parents and they took the kids to Legoland while Neil and I went to Universal Studios. So what do you do in 1 day at Universal Studios? Keep reading to find out!
What to Do in 1 Day at Universal Orlando
Spending one day at any theme park seems like an impossibility. Most theme park-ers plan a week or more to see and do everything they want to do. Sometimes, however, unexpected travel opportunities arise, and of course you are going to take them! Recently, I had the chance to spend 1 day at Universal Studios, Florida without my girls (thanks mom and dad!), and it was quite the experience. Visiting any theme park without kids is very different than visiting one with kids. I was grateful to spend some quality time with Neil and work up just exactly what to do in 1 day at Universal without kids.
Have a Plan
Just like any other theme park, you need to have a plan for Universal Studios. Because we only had one day to spend, Neil and I opted for the Studios over Islands of Adventure and Volcano Bay. We chose Universal Studios because we planned to spend most of our time in Diagon Alley, but we also wanted to check out a few rides we’d never been on before. Don’t be afraid to use great resources like this site, the Universal Orlando site, and other trusted resources you like to plan your day. Familiarize yourself with the park layout by printing out a map to mark on “old school style” or download the Universal Orlando app for easy access on your mobile device.
Consider Using Express Pass
Another consideration to your plans is the addition of the Express Pass option. I had no idea there were two choices to Express Pass until I did a little research. The Express Unlimited Pass allows guests to skip the regular lines an unlimited number of times at participating rides and attractions each day the pass is valid. The Express Pass allows guests to skip the regular line one time per ride at participating rides and attractions each day that your pass is valid. Neil and I found the prices of each pass a little too cost prohibitive for us, so we opted out of them this time, but we also knew we would be ok if we didn’t ride every single attraction in one day.
Head to Diagon Alley First
Our day began at Diagon Alley first. Because Harry Potter fans tend to be tween-age and older, our experience has been that it becomes more crowded at night. On our way to Diagon Alley, we did stop at Race Through New York Starring Jimmy Fallon to confirm we did the right thing (booking our ride time through the Universal Orlando app), and then we were off. Our longest wait of the day was for Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts, but, honestly, waiting for that ride is half the fun for me. Universal Studios has done an excellent job of making the Wizarding World consistently themed throughout, and there are lots of touches in the ride queue that fans will appreciate. Sarah’s Tip: If you want to ride the Hogwarts Express, you’ll need a park-to-park ticket that includes Islands of Adventure. You cannot ride the train with a 1 day, 1 park pass.
Hit Thrill Rides During Lunch
If you can, try to have a late lunch and hit the thrill rides during everyone’s lunch hour. Families with young kids who are tall enough to ride the roller coasters often take a midday pool break, which makes the lunch hour a great time to ride. Sarah’s Tip: No loose items are allowed on any of the roller coasters, so you’ll have to put them in a locker. Rent the locker for the day or use it for the length of your ride at no charge.
What to Ride
There are fifteen rides and attractions throughout Universal Studios that will keep your day full of fun and excitement. Plan your day just right, and you might be able to conquer them all! There are some, however, that I think can be skipped for the sake of time if need be. Not every attraction was a great one, and some even made me motion sick, so use your judgement accordingly.
- Race Through New York Starring Jimmy Fallon
- Revenge of the Mummy
- Rip Ride Rockit
- Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts
- Transformers the Ride 3
- Men in Black: Alien Attack
- E.T. Adventure
- Despicable Me: Minion Mayhem
Skip These (It’s ok, I promise)
Seriously. It’s ok by me if you miss these. They aren’t worth the wait, in my opinon.
- Kang & Kodos’ Twirl ‘n’ Hurl
- The Simpsons Ride
- Shrek 4D
- Woody Woodpecker’s Nuthouse Coaster
Biggest tip of all? Realize you might not be able to do it all in one day. Vacations are supposed to be fun, not stressful! That’s why we plan return trips, right? However you spend your 1 day at Universal Studios, make it a fun one!